PlainTasks for your simplified Daily Task List

What do you do when your OmniFocus database is a bit too daunting to include a simple overview of your Daily Tasks?

You might say: What do you mean?  I’ve mastered my Daily Review, put all Projects and Tasks not essential to touch today either On Hold, set for a later Start Date, in a Waiting For or Someday/Maybe Context. I can now look at my Today Perspective or Forecast and work down the list with confidence.

Sure, if you’re consistently that well organised and on top of your Review process — kudos! That may be totally satisfactory for you. But for me, short of scrawling something out on paper, often I feel the need to step out of my complex system and brainstorm a few things I definitely want to accomplish today. Some of these may be too minor to warrant even throwing in my Inbox (as I’ll be tempted to fiddle choosing the right Project, Context, etc.) but I don’t want to forget them in the day’s shuffle. Maybe I’m just re-iterating what’s right before me in my OmniFocus Today list, but without all the sub-tasks and possibly favoured in a particular order.

I know I’m not alone as I’ve seen many people rumbling for an interim solution using anything from:

  • a nice Moleskine notebook (classic), or check out their new digital tie-in with Evernote! (future retro)
  • Stickies notes: either paper or the app (wtf?)
  • A similar service such as Corkboard (no thanks, simply replicating a paper system isn’t an advancement in my mind)
  • An organised written approach like David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner (intriguing, but not the simplified approach I’m aiming for)
  • Fans of the Pomodoro Technique can look to Pomodorable (cute and gratifying, but in the end it’s another system you have to learn that could potentially just get in the way).
  • A plain text document (now that’s simple AND distraction free! But there have been improvements.)
  • A sophisticated ‘smart paper’ app such as TaskPaper (ridiculously cool and with a companion iOS app to boot).
  • or replicas of this idea using your favourite text editor: Taskmate (for textmate), Brett Terpstra’s lite inclusions in nvALT, or this weeks spotlight: PlainTasks (for Sublime Text).
As I’ve all but jumped ship from textmate to Sublime Text I was most intrigued by this. If you have no need for a coding text editor just stop here, rewind, and try TaskPaper. You’ll be as happy as a clam I guarantee it!
Right, you still with me? If you’re attracted like me to this cohesion of using an app you already write in all day, go give PlainTasks a whirl, or perhaps one better at least stylistically: PlainTaskOF (which promptly ditched the yellow lined paper appearance in favour of an OmniFocus-like theme). Being in the end plain-text files, I save them straight to my Dropbox folder where I can easily access and update them from any Dropbox-enabled iOS text editor.
Note: there’s currently a typo in PlainTasksOF that fails the syntax mode loading correctly, so go grab my fixed fork.
Jason Shanks

Jason is a Musician, UX Designer/Web Developer, Apple Consultant, Mac Genius in a past life and all around Apple Freak for 25+ years now. His first reaction to himself when conceiving of starting FWAP was, "ON,NAAB!" Which was later revealed to mean Oh No, Not Another Apple Blog!

Jason Shanks
Jason is a Musician, UX Designer/Web Developer, Apple Consultant, Mac Genius in a past life and all around Apple Freak for 25+ years now. His first reaction to himself when conceiving of starting FWAP was, "ON,NAAB!" Which was later revealed to mean Oh No, Not Another Apple Blog!

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